“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them,

and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

But it shall not be so among you:

but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,

but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, KJV)

The word the Athenians used for their Assembly was Ekklesia, the same word used in the New Testament for Church
(and it is the greatest philological irony in all of Western history that this word,
which connoted equal participation in all deliberation by all members,
came to designate a kind of self-perpetuating, self-protective Spartan gerousia -
which would have seemed patent nonsense to Greek-speaking Christians of New Testament times,
who believed themselves to be equal members of their Assembly.)

- Thomas Cahill, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Living in Glass Houses While Throwing Stones?

We employed a bit of levity in a previous article discussing the absurdity in our Proistamenoi’s claim that Mr. Sifantonakis (for a second time) and Mr. Armaou’s candidacies were disqualified due to inconsistent attendance. It’s difficult to imagine that our priests have the uncanny ability to know who is in which church on any given Sunday, particularly in the case of one of our priests since his absences are so frequent.

We find little humor, however, in the dismissals of Jim Kastanis and Sakis Sakellariou. Our priests claim that by words written on this blog, these gentlemen disqualified themselves. Protesting this sorry state of affairs, Mr. Gamvroulas withdrew his candidacy, as have Mr. Tsagaris and Mr. Skedros. Mr. Gamvroulas aptly pointed to a double standard in that he, along with a current parish council member, also wrote on the blog, but both were nevertheless allowed to run.

Let’s consider our priests’ written statements that Messrs. Kastanis and Sakellariou display disrespect for ecclesiastical authority. This contention is patently false. Nowhere, ever, not once, did any person writing on this blog question our clergy’s primacy in the ecclesiastical realm. Rather, these gentlemen, along with many others in this community, question the premise that our priests and hierarchs ought to control and dominate in all areas – secular and spiritual.

Let’s examine Fr. Michael’s further charge that Mr. Sakellariou was directly responsible for a “potential” convert turning away from Orthodoxy. Apparently, this lady, Alta Jackson, had been to our 2007 festival and was impressed with the spirit of unity we always muster each September. During a later visit, she attended services and was inspired by the beauty of the liturgy. Since a general assembly was announced for the next evening, she decided to attend and observe. There, she became disappointed, describing remarks made by Mr. Sakellariou as “negative”. She asked ONE parishioner, clearly someone who disagreed with Mr. Sakellariou, and was told that he was always nay-saying. Nowhere in this woman's letter does she indicate that she ever tried to determine what issues or situations might have prompted Mr. Sakellariou’s comments. As such, it would seem that her level of interest and intended commitment must have been fairly flimsy. If she’s looking for a faith whose adherents march in complete lockstep at all times and in all situations, she needs to join a cult. Such a condition is not normal, nor is it healthy.

Let’s, just for the moment, accept that perhaps Mr. Sakellariou discouraged a potential convert. If so, then using the same logic, our clergy have done precious little themselves to promote the unity Ms. Jackson was seeking. In fact, their actions have been manipulative, self-serving and divisive. Only those who are completely willing to be in lockstep with this “ministry” may “lead” and serve. The rest are here simply to provide funds, volunteer and keep quiet.

Our priests believe that one person’s remarks prevented winning one soul. We keep witnessing that their
“ministry” has turned away many more stewards of long standing who have faithfully given time, treasure and talent for decades! Even worse, this sad state of affairs has caused several of our youth, young adults, and many others to turn away. They have become discouraged and cynical at this state of affairs. One of our young adults, expecting her first child, commented:

One of my best friends teaches the kindergarten sunday school class at Prophet Elias.

The other day when asking the kids "What does the Priest do?" one very observant little kid replied promptly: "He gets P***ED!"

At first this is hysterical, kids say the funniest things. But when I think about it, it's very accurate and very sad. Our clergy is so angry and petty that they have clearly lost all reason.

I found out yesterday the baby I'm lugging around is indeed a boy as we hoped. Unfortunately today, upon learning of recent events, I am not hopeful or excited about blue paint, strollers, and an adorable layette. Instead I am overwhelmed with pity for this kid, because the clergy, the parish council, the dudes in denver... it's all so dismal a present, I dare not imagine the future! Why is my kid getting stuck with the broken GOCSLC?!

At least now I can avoid it all ... but in a few months I'll have some one else to responsibly haul in for judgment. …
As a concluding thought, we would refer our clergy to Matthew 7:3: "And why do you behold the sliver that is in your friend's eye, but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye?"

1 comment:

Andrew Giannis said...

Congratulations to the moderators for the eloquent and pointed letter! I would also like to take the opportunity and comment on one of the reasons for Mr. Sakellariou’s disqualification.

Based on the records presented to us at the last General Assembly, for current year (2008) 156 individuals opted not to pledge, and only God knows how many have done the same in years prior to this. If Mr. Sakellariou is the sole reason for the loss of this probable convert, Ms. Alta Jackson, then our clergy should explain to us how they managed to lose 156 existing members in a single year, and what they have done to reconnect them or bring them back to the fold. Has either of our Proistamenoi even attempted to find out why these individuals became disengaged from our Church? If I were to guess, I would say NO, they haven’t and probably don’t care. Perhaps Mr. Sakellariou is responsible for this, too! Our Proistamanoi have become masters in replacing logic, fairness and election rules by fabricated and irrational reasons to disqualify potential candidates they do not like, or anyone who dare ask questions. In their mind, the end justifies the means.

It is obvious, and it has been for quite sometime, that our clergy does not care who stays and who goes. Their goal was, and still is, to divide the community and if we become more divided, then the separation they so much want will be easier to accomplish. As in all failures, things have to get a lot worse before they turn around. This is the only hope we all have.

Merry Christmas to all!

- Andrew Giannis